Saumya Tewari

Canon Says, "You Can!"

Through its latest commercial titled 'Everyone can with Canon', the camera brand attempts to dismantle, and then reconfigure, consumer perception of the category. The message is: the segment is not just for professionals; it is for everyone.

Today, almost everyone who owns a smartphone has a decent camera in his or her pocket. But before the advent of smartphones, and their in-built mega-pixel cameras, one had to rely solely on cameras, actual cameras, to click pictures.

Canon Says, "You Can!"
Canon Says, "You Can!"
Canon Says, "You Can!"
Over time, with the rapidly increasing penetration of mobile phones and the improving quality of cell phone cameras, digital cameras came to be perceived as gadgets meant primarily for professional photographers or hardcore photography enthusiasts.

Japanese camera manufacturer Canon, through its latest campaign, tries to bust this perception and position the DSLR or digital single-lens reflex camera as something that is simple to use and meant for absolutely everyone. The campaign is aptly titled 'Everyone can with Canon'.

In a sense, the campaign takes consumers back in time to the 'point and shoot' era, before the simple digital camera got complicated with a zillion features and options that the layperson doesn't quite understand.

Around couple of years back, when Canon single-mindedly began promoting the digital camera category, with its sub-brand 'Powershot' (remember the brand's high decibel campaign, 'What makes us Click', featuring effervescent actress Anushka Sharma?), the DSLR segment was still a niche one, targeted primarily at photography aficionados. So, what changed since then?

Alok Bharadwaj, executive vice-president of Canon India, has the answer: Smartphones, as a segment, entered the big league, so to speak. This adversely affected the digital camera category. Today, one can not only click pictures with their cell phone, but can also edit and upload them to a digital platform instantly.

Taking cue from this reality, Canon decided to dismantle, and then rebuild, consumer perception of the digital camera category. The slice-of-life commercial has been created by Dentsu India. Through the film, we see people 'clicking' pictures with a make-believe camera. The gadget is conspicuous by its absence; the people in the film simply enact the 'clicking action', which is accompanied by the 'clicking sound'. Promoting the product through gesture alone is Canon's way of saying, "It's that easy."

But isn't the brand missing out on the opportunity to give a product demo? Answers Bharadwaj, "We decided to keep the product out of the film and just use hand gestures to symbolise photography. Using one's fingers to click pictures through a smartphone isn't photography. The hand gesture we've used in the ad says - you are capturing a moment; not just clicking it."

Soumitra Karnik, national creative director, Dentsu India, tells us the objective of the campaign is to make the world of DSLR cameras an inviting and friendly place, and to highlight the ease with which one can click pictures using the product.

He explains, "Before using any technology-based product, the first-time consumer instinctively feels a bit uncomfortable with, and intimidated by, it. Once consumers overcome this initial fear they are delighted to discover the world that the product opens up for them."

How does Canon plan to push a Rs 30,000+ product to the price conscious Indian? Bharadwaj says the focus at the moment is behaviour change; he wants consumers to first adopt the DSLR. "Pricing," he insists, "can be made flexible."

Canon is currently offering EOS 1200D with a double zoom kit, which is priced at Rs 39, 995. The non-offer price is around Rs 52, 990.

In 2007, only 10 per cent of Canon's revenue came from the DSLR segment; today, that figure has increased to a staggering 70 per cent. The company expects its DSLR segment to grow by 40 per cent this year. Last year Canon sold three lakh units of DSLRs, a figure the company aims to double in two years' time. Presently, Canon has 110 stores in India. Plans are to double that number by next year.

The company organises pre-purchase photography workshops for buyers. "Once they start clicking better pictures they'll stay true to the category," Bharadwaj says, going on to inform us that Canon has tied-up with several photography institutes to this end.

Does the strategy click?

Canon Says, "You Can!"
According to Kiran Khalap, brands across categories have been faced with non-traditional competitors for quite some time now. Therefore, the co-founder of Chlorophyll, a brand consultancy, finds Canon's strategy "ten years too late."

He also feels picking 'ease of use' as the main proposition, is not the best idea for Canon. "I am not sure whether this is differentiating enough. It brings Canon down to the level of the phone camera without anything more to differentiate it," he says, adding, "What about video? The ad does not inform me about this feature."

Indians, he reminds us, are driven by a gadget's ability to play and shoot videos. "To drive its video capabilities, Nokia did a seven minute movie called Commuter using the N8," he says, insisting that "lateral stuff" like this would help increase Canon's likeability.

Though Khalap feels the moments shown in the film could have been far more memorable, he, however, appreciates the alliterative effect of the tagline, 'Everyone can with a Canon.'

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